Generally, when I receive one of Russ Daggatt’s postings about the Administration, I clip a few tasty snippets to share here. But there’s so much good stuff that I plan to drop in whole chunks, only occasionally speaking up, in italics. (Oh, btw, the political lamp is definitely lit!)
The Administration.s War Against the US Military
Senator Chuck Hagel, a conservative Republican from Nebraska (but apparently a sincere one, rather than an inner member of the cabal), had this to say about the Iraq war recently:
“Calling conditions in Iraq "an absolute replay of Vietnam," (at last, the "V word!") Sen. Chuck Hagel said Friday that the Pentagon is making a mistake by beefing up American forces in Iraq.
U.S. soldiers have become "easy targets" in a country that has descended into "absolute anarchy," the Nebraska Republican and Vietnam combat veteran said in an interview with The [Omaha] World-Herald. He said that in the previous 48 hours, he had received three telephone calls from four-star generals who were "beside themselves" over the Pentagon's reversal of plans to bring tens of thousands of soldiers home this fall.
Instead, top Pentagon officials are suspending military rotations and adding troops in Iraq. The Pentagon has estimated that the buildup will increase the number of U.S. troops from about 130,000 to 135,000."That isn't going to do any good. It's going to have a worse effect," Hagel said.
"They're destroying the United States Army."
"He's absolutely right," Lawrence Korb, a former senior Defense Department official in the Reagan administration, said of the Vietnam comparison. "The signs are all around."
Korb, who works at a centrist think tank, also agreed with Hagel's view that the Pentagon's reversal of plans to reduce troops this year would hurt the Army in the long run. "Yes, they're ruining the all-volunteer Army," Korb said.
As if to reinforce the latter point, it was reported this week that more than two-thirds of active Army brigades and Army National Guard units are not ready for combat – an abysmal state of readiness:
“More than two-thirds of the Army National Guard's 34 brigades are not combat ready, mostly because of equipment shortages that will cost up to $21 billion to correct, the top National Guard general said Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum spoke to a group defense reporters after Army officials, analysts and members of Congress disclosed that two-thirds of the active Army's brigades are not ready for war. The budget won't allow the military to complete the personnel training and equipment repairs and replacement that must be done when units return home after deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan, they say.
The issue [or military combat readiness] gained political momentum [in 2000] when then-candidate George Bush, during his nominating convention, said the Clinton administration let the U.S. military might erode. Now, as the 2006 elections approach, Democrats are saying the Bush administration is shortchanging the military.”
To which I can only answer “At last!” But democrats who merely mention this as a talking point will not overcome what we physicists call the “barrier energy” for moderately conservative American voters to overcome their stereotypes and prejudices... believing that, however rotten Bush & co have been to the military, democrats would be worse.
Worse? how? What could be worse than hollowing out our military to levels of unreadiness below Pearl Harbor?
If democrats attacked this issue VIGOROUSLY... and added related topics like the neocons’ all-out war upon the professional intelligence community and Officer Corps... then they might really accomplish something in breaking up Karl Rove’s Big Tent conservative alliance.
As Russ Daggatt puts it:
Bush is destroying the Army. Despite spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined, Bush has so overstretched our military that there isn’t the budget for training personnel and replacing and repairing equipment being used up in Bush’s wars. What are his budget priorities? Cut the estate tax – while US troops are fighting and dying so that he can hand the Iraq mess over to his successor.
Alas, there is no justice. I have been saying this - almost alone - for three years. Want another example of my Cassandra Problem? Back in 2002, I was writing to everybody, hollering that we should at least CONSIDER bringing Iran into our own big tent, before attacking Saddam. At the time, Iranian students were marching and the country’s president was encouraging them. A peace offensive MIGHT have been enough to sway another crucial 10% away from supporting the Mullahs and toward a rapprochement with America. It seemed cheap and worth a try!
“Consider,” I begged. “We have three vowed enemies in that region... people who have sworn to destroy us. Saddam, the Iranian mullahs, and a certain roil house. What is the worst nightmare of all three? Answer: restored friendship between the Iranian and American people.”
A peace offensive (hey, Nixon went to China!) would be cheap and have almost no downside. (If it failed, we’d look great for having tried.) Alas. Shortly after I campaigned for this, Condi (brilliant lady) declared the Axis of Evil, started ineffectual saber rattling and drove the students back under the mullahs’ flag. Good move! When we could have struck a deal to topple Saddam together, in exchange for a more open Iran.
Now returning to Daggatt:
Deliberately Fostering the Shi’ite Jihad
And as well all now know, the big winner from Bush’s disaster has been Iran. Bush has eliminated Iran’s main rival, Saddam’s Iraq, and has installed a regime friendly to Iran.
As former diplomat Flynt Leverett wrote in the New York Times earlier this year:
“During its five years in office, the administration has turned away from every opportunity to put relations with Iran on a more positive trajectory. …
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Tehran offered to help Washington overthrow the Taliban and establish a new political order in Afghanistan. But in his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush announced that Iran was part of an "axis of evil," thereby scuttling any possibility of leveraging tactical cooperation over Afghanistan into a strategic opening.
In the spring of 2003, shortly before I left government, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent Washington a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. It was presented as having support from all major players in Iran's power structure, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A conversation I had shortly after leaving the government with a senior conservative Iranian official strongly suggested that this was the case. Unfortunately, the administration's response was to complain that the Swiss diplomats who passed the document from Tehran to Washington were out of line.
Having rejected the overtures of the Iranian government back when the “moderates” were in control, we helped bring about a much more hostile government in that country. (The US isn’t the only country that responds to security threats by electing radical religious militaristic nuts.)
There is much more, including citations from articles and politicians, but I'll just summarize here. Daggatt concludes:
I am an optimist by nature. But, unfortunately, with the Bush administration things can always get worse.
Well, there is one possibility. The democrats need an EXPENDABLE MODERATE FRONT-RUNNER. Someone who is willing to step up and voice ALL of these things, without fear of political repercussions, because she or he does not actually plan to be president! Such a person would draw fire while raining blows on BushCo for treacheries that have nothing to do with left or right, but that have to do with devastating undermining of America and the world.
But more on that idea, anon....